Bronchitis : A General Overview

Research Based
Medically reviewed by - Dr Qudsiya Raiees, MD Written by - Dr. Shilpa R


What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a disorder that appears when the airways of the lungs get irritated. A person coughs because of irritation, swelling and mucus production that occurs when the airways (trachea and bronchi) become inflamed. The primary symptom of bronchitis is a cough, which can linger from a few days to a few weeks and occasionally produce mucus. There are two distinct types of bronchitis: acute and chronic. Acute conditions are self-limiting, and persist for a few days, and chronic conditions last longer.

Bronchitis is a disorder that appears when the airways of the lungs get irritated.


What are the types?

There are two forms of bronchitis, namely:

Acute bronchitis or chest cold

  • This variety, which is caused by infection, is quite prevalent and might spread easily.
  • The majority of people bounce back within a matter of days or weeks. 1What are the types | Researched based study from

Chronic bronchitis

  • It is an ongoing condition that causes the bronchial tube lining to itch or inflame.
  • A minimum of two years in line, lasting at least three months.
  • As the airway lining remains irritated for a longer period with edema and increased mucus production, breathing becomes more challenging.


Causes of bronchitis

Acute bronchitis can be caused by

  • Viruses such as the influenza virus that causes the flu, the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the adenovirus, the rhinovirus that causes the common cold, and COVID-19.
  • Acute bronchitis can occasionally be brought on by bacterial infection.
  • Exposure to pollutants, dust, fumes, vapors, cigarette smoke, and other chemicals that irritate the lungs.

Chronic bronchitis may result from

  • Using marijuana or cigarettes. (cannabis)
  • Ongoing inflammation of the tissue in the airways.
  • Prolonged exposure to the environment’s toxins, dust, and air pollution
  • Genetic influences.
  • Frequently occurring acute bronchitis bouts.
  • Pesticide exposure may raise the risk. 2Causes of bronchitis | Researched based study from


Risk factors

Bronchitis can affect anyone; however, the following things may make it more likely:

  • Smoking or being close to someone who is smoking.
  • Genetic component – lung disease running in the family may make you more vulnerable.
  • Autoimmune conditions – may result in persistent inflammation.
  • Age – Children under five and elderly people are more likely to get bronchitis.
  • Occupation exposure – to certain lung irritants, like the dust from grains or textiles, or chemical fumes.
  • History of respiratory illness – The risk may be increased by a history of allergies, asthma, a history of cystic fibrosis, a condition called bronchiectasis, etc.
  • Chronic illness – Any chronic ailment, including emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), may increase a person’s risk.
  • Weaker immunity – infants and toddlers may still be developing their immune systems, while older adults who are living with chronic illnesses may have reduced immunity and so be more vulnerable.
  • Environmental factor – Pollutants in the air, such as smoke or chemical vapors.
  • History of recent cold or infection – may increase the risk.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – may increase the chance.


What are the symptoms?

Bronchitis symptoms might include:

  • Coughing up mucous or not
  • Mucus or sputum output – clear, yellow, white, or green.
  • Chest congestion, a feeling of being overstuffed or choked in the chest.
  • Exhaling with a whistling or wheezing sound.
  • Breathlessness or difficulty breathing. 3What are the symptoms | Researched based study from
  • A runny or congested nose.
  • General tiredness.
  • Chest ache.
  • Minor head pain.
  • Minor muscle pains.
  • Throat aches.
  • Minor fever.


Diagnosis of bronchitis

A physical examination and the following tests may be performed after discussing the patient’s symptoms, everyday habits, health conditions, and the family’s history to arrive at a diagnosis:

  • Physical examination – using a stethoscope, the physician will assess the patient’s breathing to hear if there are any whistling or wheezing sounds.
  • Nasal swab – is a soft-tipped stick that is used in the nose to test for viruses such as COVID-19 or the flu.
  • Sputum test – To determine whether the infection is brought on by viruses or bacteria or by any allergy, and whether antibiotics could be helpful.
  • Pulmonary function test – Used to gauge how well someone’s lungs operate. This test looks for indications of emphysema or asthma.
  • Blood test – to check for infections or an individual’s general health.
  • A chest X-ray can assist identify any conditions that might be causing a person’s cough, such as pneumonia. If a person smokes now or in the past, this is extremely crucial.


What are the preventive measures ?

Here are a few particular methods to lower the risk:

  • Refrain from smoking or keep away from smokers.
  • Try to stay away from others if you, or anybody nearby, is unwell.
  • Dust, pollen particles, pets, and other things that can cause allergies or asthma should all be avoided by people who have them.
  • Getting enough sleep may help people’s immune systems function better.
  • Consume a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Be sure to hydrate well. A daily intake of eight to twelve glasses helps to thin the mucus and facilitates coughing up the mucus.
  • Use a humidifier to keep the air damp to prevent irritation of the respiratory tract. This aids in keeping the air from getting dry.
  • Make sure to receive vaccines for COVID-19, pneumonia, and flu.
  • Use soap and water to frequently wash hands. If a sink for washing is not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • If you come into contact with dust, fumes, or crowds while working or traveling, shield yourself with a surgical mask, particularly if you have any existing respiratory issues.


What are the complications?

Bronchitis complications may include:

  • Subsequent infections such as pneumonia, sinus infections, middle ear infections, etc.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 4What are the complications| Researched based study from
  • Acute bronchitis flare-ups in chronic bronchitis patients.
  • Hemoptysis, or coughing up blood.
  • Respiratory failure.
  • Pneumothorax.
  • Emphysema.
  • Heart failure.


Treatment strategies

In contrast to chronic bronchitis, which may require long-term care, acute bronchitis typically does not require any treatment because the signs and symptoms can last less than three weeks 5Treatment strategies | Researched based study from Bronchitis treatment options include the following:


The doctor may suggest drugs to treat underlying conditions:

  • Antiviral drugs – may be recommended if the bronchitis was brought on by the flu. Antiviral medications can help patients feel better faster if they start taking them as soon as their symptoms appear.
  • Bronchodilators – help a person open his or her airway, if they have any breathing difficulties.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines – corticosteroids and other drugs may be provided to minimize inflammation.
  • Cough suppressants – can help with a persistent cough and are available over the counter or by prescription.
  • Antibiotics – are very unlikely to be used to treat bronchitis unless the doctor suspects a bacterial infection.


  • A breathing exercise program called pulmonary rehabilitation, which teaches patients with chronic bronchitis how to breathe more comfortably and increase their capacity for physical activity, may be beneficial.



Acute bronchitis usually goes away on its own after treatment for its symptoms. 6Prognosis | Researched based study from The severity or duration of the patient’s symptoms may increase if they have a heart problem or respiratory disorder, such as asthma. One could get secondary pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, and rarely even respiratory failure. 7Prognosis | Researched based study from ,8Prognosis | Researched based study from The cough seems to persist forever, even though a person gets free of runny nose and bodily aches. 9Prognosis | Researched based study from

Chronic bronchitis requires advanced, lifelong treatment. It could be a dangerous condition and could indicate permanent lung injury. Since this illness cannot be completely cured, the doctor can assist manage symptoms and reduce flare-ups. The patients are vulnerable to several problems. Most patients have a poor prognosis overall, with many becoming disabled by advancing shortness of breath. 10Prognosis | Researched based study from

Disclaimer: The user acknowledges that this article's information is being offered for informational purposes only. Every attempt has been made to guarantee that the article is informational and correct. If they have any doubts or questions about their health, we firmly advise our readers to visit a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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